Armstrong County, Pennsylvania
|Founded||March 12, 1800|
|Named for||John Armstrong|
|• Total||664 sq mi (1,720 km2)|
|• Land||653 sq mi (1,690 km2)|
|• Water||11 sq mi (30 km2) 1.6%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||103/sq mi (40/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Designated||October 15, 1982|
Armstrong County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 68,941. The county seat is Kittanning. The county was organized on March 12, 1800, from parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Lycoming Counties. It was named in honor of John Armstrong, who represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress and served as a major general during the Revolutionary War.
Armstrong County is included in the Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Little is known of the pre-Columbian history of the area that is today called Armstrong County, but the often cited starting point begins with the civilization known colloquially as the Mound Builders. Many 19th-20th century famers throughout the county have unearthed artifacts from this time period, such as arrowheads. Unfortunately, several of the prominent earthen works characteristic of this culture have been removed for agricultural and settlement purposes. One prominent mound was located between present-day Kittanning and Ford City and was believed to have been an earthen fortification used to defend against other tribal peoples. Other mounds were found in Boggs, South Buffalo, and Washington townships. The aboriginal inhabitants were given the name "Allegewi" by the tribes that drove them out sometime between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Historical accounts describe the tribes that conquered the Allegewi as primarily the Lenni-Lenape or "Delaware" tribes, as well as bands of Mohawk, Oneidas, Cayugas, Onondagas, and Seneca. The Lenni-Lenape and Delware tribes made semi-permanent and permanent settlements in and around present-day Kittanning, and much of the area functioned as their hunting and agricultural lands. Blockhouses built by the Lenni-Lenape, not unlike the early European settler dwellings, were commonly seen around Ford City, Kittanning, South Buffalo, Brady's Bend, and Red Bank. The Lenni-Lenape were the primary inhabitants of the area and were the primary points of contact for European settlers in this area at the turn of the 18th century.
With the arrival of European settlers also came the competing claims to the territory, primarily between the French and British empires, who were engaged in what became known as the Seven Years' War. As the global conflict between the two empires expanded into the "New World," both sides attempted to court the many Native American tribes. Several tribes in the Allegheny River Valley, including the Lenni-Lenape, sided with the French during this time period, as their friendship appeared to be more advantageous to their own territorial claims against the British-friendly Iroquois Nations. In exchange for furs, freedom of movement in Lenni-Lenape territory, and guerilla raids on British troops and settlers, the French supplied weapons and other European goods and offered military protection to the friendly tribes. This agreement and similar alliances with other tribes allowed the French to become more well dug-in along the Allegheny River, most prominently at Fort Duquesne in present-day Pittsburgh. Several military engagements in the Ohio country ( that would later become western Pennsylvania) were part of the greater conflict called the French and Indian War, so dubbed by the Anglo-American settlers in the region, a term still in use today.
One of the minor battles that erupted during the French and Indian War occurred at the present site of the Armstrong County seat, Kittanning, or Kit-hane-ink, as it was referred to by the Lenape, meaning "settlement by the main river." Although the Battle of Kittanning was inconsequential to the greater conflict with the French and Indian tribes, it is an integral part of Armstrong County's history. The expedition, led by Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong, brought about the destruction of the Lenape village of Kittanning, which had served as a staging point for attacks by Lenape (Delaware) warriors against colonists in the British Province of Pennsylvania. Deep into hostile territory, the raid on Kittanning was the only major expedition carried out by Pennsylvania Provincial troops during the brutal backcountry war. It is often thought of by local historians as a type of pre-World War II Doolittle Raid.
With the surrender of George Washington at Fort Necessity in 1754 and Braddock's defeat in 1755, the settlers on the Pennsylvania frontier were without professional military protection, and scrambled to organize a defense. The French-allied Indians who had defeated General Edward Braddock at the Monongahela were primarily from the Great Lakes region to the north. The local Indians, mostly Lenape and Shawnee who had migrated to the area after white colonists had settled their lands to the east, had waited to see who would win the contest—they could not risk siding with the loser. With Fort Duquesne now secured, the victorious French encouraged the Lenape and Shawnee to "take up the hatchet" against those who had taken their land.
Beginning about October 1755, Lenape and Shawnee war parties, often with French cooperation, began raiding settlements in Pennsylvania. Although European-Americans also waged war with cruelty, they found Indian warfare particularly brutal and frightening. Notable among the Indian raiders were the Lenape war leaders Shingas and Captain Jacobs, both of whom lived at Kittanning. The colonial governments of Pennsylvania and Virginia offered rewards for their scalps. Captain Jacobs was on an expedition led by Louis Coulon de Villiers that descended on Fort Granville (near present-day Lewistown) on the morning of August 2, 1756. The attackers were held off, but the garrison commander was killed, and his second in command surrendered the garrison, including the women and children, the next morning. The commander's brother, Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong, immediately organized an expedition of 300 men against Kittanning in response. Early on September 8, 1756, they launched a surprise attack on the Indian village. Many of the Kittanning residents fled, but Captain Jacobs put up a defense, holing up with his wife and family inside their home. When he refused to surrender, his house and others were set on fire, touching off gunpowder that had been stored inside. Captain Jacobs was killed and scalped after jumping from his home in an attempt to escape the flames. The battle ended when the entire village was engulfed in flames.
The destruction of Kittanning was hailed as a victory in Pennsylvania, and Armstrong was known afterwards as the "Hero of Kittanning". He and his men collected the "scalp bounty" that had been placed on Captain Jacobs. However, the victory had limitations: the attackers suffered more casualties than they inflicted, and most of the villagers escaped, taking with them almost all of the prisoners that had been held in the village. The expedition also probably aggravated the frontier war; subsequent Indian raids that autumn were fiercer than ever. The Kittanning raid revealed to the village's inhabitants their vulnerability, and many moved to more secure areas. A peace faction led by Shingas's brother Tamaqua soon came to the forefront. Tamaqua eventually made peace with Pennsylvania in the Treaty of Easton, which enabled the British under General John Forbes to successfully mount an expedition in 1758 that drove the French from Fort Duquesne. Reenactments of the Battle of Kittanning have become a favorite pastime of the local inhabitants of present-day Armstrong County.
John Armstrong later served as a brigadier general in the Continental Army and as a major general in the Pennsylvania Militia during the Revolutionary War. He was also a delegate to the Continental Congress for Pennsylvania. Armstrong County, formed on March 12, 1800, from parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland and Lycoming Counties was named in the general's honor.
In the early 1800s, most people in Armstrong County were "old stock Americans" of Scotch-Irish and English ancestry, whose ancestors had settled in the area prior to the American Revolution. In the decades following the American Civil War, and in particular between 1890 and 1910, immigrants arrived in large numbers from Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Poland.
As the county seat, Kittanning became the governmental, financial, and commercial hub for the county. In the 1890's, Water Street (sometimes called "Millionaire Row") in Kittanning boasted more millionaire residents than anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Booming industries in the county such as coal, natural gas, plate glass, brick, ceramics, and iron created a strong local economy. Gradual population decline, via economic downturns, began in the 1970's and 80's, and while there are still many coal mines and natural gas wells in operation throughout the county, the decline of the fossil fuel industry, due to government regulation and subsidizing of other sources of energy, has severely limited the economy of Kittanning . Recently, revitalization efforts have led to a beautification of Market Street in Kittanning in an effort to attract new businesses and people.
Three miles upriver from Kittanning is Ford City. Incorporated in 1887, Ford City was a company town for John Baptiste Ford's renowned plate-glass industry, known today as Pittsburgh Plate Glass PPG Industries, a Fortune 500 Company. Eljer also operated a production facility along the river in Ford City that made ceramic toilets. The two companies employed nearly 10,000 people at the height of Armstrong County's economy. Today, Ford City is a struggling, yet proud community that finds ways to keep its economy and heritage alive through creative businesses and lively festivals. In addition, Ford City is the future site of the Armstrong campus of Butler County Community College (BC3) - consistently ranked the Best Community College in Pennsylvania. 
Armstrong County is home to the City of Parker, an incorporated third-class city, which was an oil boom town with a population rumored to be approximately 20,000 in 1873, but now is the "Smallest City in America" with a population of just under 800. Parker is located in the extreme northwest portion of the county.
Iron was made in the Brady's Bend area of the county twenty years before there was a foundry in Pittsburgh doing so.
Elderton, whose name is derived from the famous resident of the area, Sara Elder, is a small community, home to the former Elderton Jr/Sr High School, revered nationally for the quality of people that graduated from there.
In 1869, Leechburg was the first place in the United States to use natural gas for metallurgical purposes. Natural gas was found while drilling for oil, and eventually introduced into the boilers and furnaces of Siberian Iron Works.
Freeport, Leechburg, and Apollo were communities built along the Pennsylvania Canal, which passed through on the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers, at the southern border of the county.
Worthington is the county's primary agricultural hub and lies just west of Kittanning along Route 422.
The Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers; Buffalo, Crooked, Cowanshannock, Redbank, and Mahoning creeks; and Carnahan Run, among others, have watersheds within the county. The Murphy, Nicholson, Ross, and Cogley islands are in the Allegheny in Armstrong County.
- Clarion County (north)
- Jefferson County (northeast)
- Indiana County (east)
- Westmoreland County (south)
- Allegheny County (southwest)
- Butler County (west)
- Venango County (northwest)
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 72,392 people, 29,005 households, and 20,535 families residing in the county. The population density was 111 people per square mile (43/km2). There were 32,387 housing units at an average density of 50 per square mile (19/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 98.32% White, 0.82% Black or African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.12% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 0.50% from two or more races. 0.43% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 34.6% were of German, 10.8% Italian, 9.3% Irish, 8.7% American, 7.4% English and 5.7% Polish ancestry.
There were 29,005 households, out of which 29.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 9.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.20% were non-families. 25.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.95.
The distribution of the age of the population in the county was 22.90% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 24.20% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.
- Birth rate
Armstrong County's live birth rate was 890 births in 1990. Armstrong County's live birth rate in 2000 was 740 births, while in 2011 it had declined further to 680 babies. Over the past 50 years (1960 to 2010), rural Pennsylvania saw a steady decline in both the number and proportion of residents under 18 years old. In 1960, 1.06 million rural residents, or 35 percent of the rural population, were children.
- Teen Pregnancy rate
Armstrong County had 448 babies born to teens (age 15-19) in 2011. In 2015, the number of teen births in Armstrong County was 418.
- County poverty demographics
According to research by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania , which is a legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the poverty rate for Armstrong County was 13.8% in 2014. The statewide poverty rate was 13.6% in 2014. The 2012 childhood poverty rate by school district was: Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District - 37.2%, Apollo-Ridge School District - 46.6% living at 185% or below than the Federal Poverty Level, Armstrong School District - 48.9%, Freeport Area School District - 27.7%, and Leechburg Area School District - 39.6.
Government and politics
As of November 7, 2017 there were 41,070 registered voters in the county. The Republican Party accounts for a majority of the voters. There were 21,772 registered Republicans, 14,742 registered Democrats, 4,259 voters registered to other parties, 259 to the Libertarian Party and 38 voters registered to the Green Party.
|Voter registration and party enrollment|
|Party||Number of voters||Percentage|
- Donald Myers (Republican), Chairman
- Jason Renshaw (Republican), Vice-Chairman
- Pat Fabian (Democrat), Secretary
- Katie Charlton (Republican)
- Bill Rupert (Democrat)
- Brian Myers (Republican)
- Myra "Tammy" Miller (Republican)
- Amanda Hiles (Republican)
Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds:
- Marianne Hileman (Republican)
Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts:
- Brenda C. George (Republican)
- Kenneth G. Valasek, Senior Judge (Democrat)
- James Panchik, President Judge (Democrat)
- Joseph A. Nickleach Sr. Senior Judge (Democrat)
- Chase McClister, Judge (Democrat)
State House Of Representatives
- Joseph A. Petrarca, Democrat, Pennsylvania's 55th Representative District
- Jeff Pyle, Republican, Pennsylvania's 60th Representative District
- Donna Oberlander, Republican, Pennsylvania's 63rd Representative District
United States House of Representatives
Colleges and universities
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania Northpointe - South Buffalo Township
Public school districts
- Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District (part) - ranked 415th (2012), 448th in 2010
- Apollo-Ridge School District (part) - ranked 406 (2012), 437th (2010)
- Armstrong School District (part, 2 high schools) - ranked 342nd (2012), 328th in 2010
- Freeport Area School District (part) - ranked 148th (2012), 124th in 2010
- Karns City Area School District (part) - ranked 193rd (2012), 177th in 2010
- Kiski Area School District (part) - ranked 96th (2012), 101st in 2010
- Leechburg Area School District (part) - ranked 416th (2012), 400th in 2010
- Redbank Valley School District (part) - ranked 298th (2012), 279th in 2010
The 498 school districts of Pennsylvania, that have high schools, were ranked for student academic achievement as demonstrated by four years of writing, science math and reading PSSA results by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010.
- Lenape Technical School - Ford City
As reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Education - EdNA. April 2012.
- Adelphoi Village Miller Home - Apollo
- Divine Redeemer School - Ford City
- Dry Knob Amish School - Smicksburg
- Evangelical Lutheran School - Worthington
- Grace Christian School - Kittanning
- Meadow View School - Dayton
- Model Education Program - Kittanning
- New Bethlehem Wesleyan Methodist School - New Bethlehem
- Orchard Hills Christian Academy - Apollo
- Owl Hollow Amish School - Smicksburg
- Shady Lane Amish School - Smicksburg
- Shady Run Amish School - Smicksburg
- Stony Acres Amish School - Smicksburg
- Stony Flat Amish School - Smicksburg
- United Cerebral Palsy Of Western Pennsylvania - Spring Church
- Whippoorwill School - Smicksburg
- Worthington Baptist Christian School - Worthington
- Apollo Memorial Library - Apollo, PA
- Ford City Public Library - Ford City, PA
- Freeport Area Library - Freeport, PA
- Kittanning Public Library - Kittanning, PA
- Leechburg Public Library - Leechburg, PA
- Worthington West Franklin Community Library - Worthington, PA
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Armstrong County:
Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.
- Mahoning Furnace
- McCrea Furnace
- Mount Tabor
- New Salem
- Nu Mine
- Oak Ridge
- Pine Furnace
- Shady Plain
- Spring Church
- West Valley
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Population (2010 Census)||Municipal type||Incorporated|
John Armstrong Sr. - namesake of Armstrong County, civil engineer, American military general, Battle of Kittanning
William F. Johnston - Armstrong County Bar Association, abolitionist, 11th Governor of Pennsylvania 1848-1852, namesake of Johnston Ave. in Kittanning
Joseph Buffington - Judge, US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, US Circuit Courts for the Third Circuit, and US District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
PA Supreme Court: James Thompson
John Gilpin - PA Constitutional Convention of 1873; namesake for Gilpin Township
John F. Hunter, Ohio state legislature
David Alter - Freeport, PA medical doctor; scientist; inventor of spectrum analysis, the idea that every element has its own emission spectrum: a breakthrough development in spectroscopy. The published article was: On Certain Physical Properties of Light Produced by the Combustion of Different Metals in an Electric Spark Refracted by a Prism published 1854
Mickey Morandini, Leechburg an MLB second baseman and coach, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Toronto Blue Jays. His career highlights include selection as a 1995 National League (NL) All-Star, playing for the Phillies in the 1993 NL Championship Series and World Series, and appearing for the Cubs in the 1998 NL Division Series. Also played for USA baseball in the 1988 Olympic Games is Seoul.
Red Bowser, Freeport native, outfielder in Major League Baseball
Broc Hepler - Kittanning native, professional motorcross racing
Ryan Hemphill, Apollo native, NASCAR driver
Eric Ravotti, former NFL (Steeler) linebacker
Mitch Frerotte - an American professional football player who played as a guard for four seasons with the Buffalo Bills.
Gus Frerotte - former American football quarterback. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft. He played college football at Tulsa.
Bud Carson, former NFL coach, Steelers Defensive Coordinator for first two Superbowl wins, helped develop the "Steel Curtain"
Greg Christy, played at Freeport High School, American football player, Buffalo Bills
Jeff Christy, played at Freeport High School, American football player, center for the Arizona Cardinals, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1992-2003
Tim Levcik, American football player
Zigmund "Red" Mihalik, Hall of Fame basketball official
Teri Hope, actress
Ralph Patt, jazz guitarist
Don Taylor, actor and director
Nellie Bly, Apollo native, journalist and adventurer, widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days and investigative journalism
David Coulter, banker
Chris Valasek, computer security expert
Michael Yates, economist and magazine editor
- List of counties in Pennsylvania
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania
- "PHMC Historical Markers Search" (Searchable database). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walter Smith
- (PDF) https://www.bc3.edu/news/pdf/BC3-number-one-pa-community-colleges.pdf. Missing or empty
- "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Pennsylvania Department of Health, Birth Age County Reports 1990 and 2011, 2011
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2016). "Pennsylvania Teen Births 2015".
- US Census Bureau (2015). "Poverty Rates by County Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates".
- Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (2012). "Student Poverty Concentration 2012". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- "Error" (PDF).
- Armstrong Libraries. Armstrong Libraries. Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
- Freeport Area Library Association - Home. Freeportlibrary.org (July 12, 2013). Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
- "Decennial Census by Decades". Retrieved April 20, 2015.
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